Go on the road and get a big win? Notre Dame often has done that under Brian Kelly

Tom Noie
ND Insider
Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick and head coach Brian Kelly celebrate a win at USC in this 2018 file photo. After last week's 24-13 loss to No. 5 Cincinnati, the Irish need to find a way to win on the road at Virginia Tech.

Winning at home with your fans and your routine and your everything else is nice and expected and all, but it’s just not the same. 

There’s nothing like going into someone else’s house, be it in the afternoon or night, and walking out of there with a win. It hits differently. It feels differently, when all the craziness of a sellout crowd fades to … silence. 

Fourteenth-ranked Notre Dame (4-1) has a chance to do it again late Saturday when it visits unranked Virginia Tech (3-1). The Irish know what to expect from the fans in the stands to the sound over the speakers (cue, Enter Sandman). Notre Dame has won before in Lane Stadium. Now go do it again. 

Following are NDInsider’s top six road wins for Notre Dame under coach Brian Kelly. 

Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush reaches for the pylon after stepping out of bounds as Boston College’s Max Richardson tackles him during the 2017 game at Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.

6. Notre Dame 49, Boston College 20 

(Sept. 16, 2017) 

Coming clear of a home loss the previous week to then-No. 15 Georgia, there were rumblings around Notre Dame of here the Irish go again — good but not good enough to win close games or beat good teams. Thoughts lurked of another 4-8 season like the one in 2016. 

Notre Dame ended any uncertainty with a run performance for the ages. The Irish racked up 515 yards on 51 carries — 10.1 yards an attempt — and ran away from the No. 12 Eagles. Brandon Wimbush set a school rush record for a quarterback with 207 yards. Josh Adams added 229 as the Irish tallied 611 yards of total offense. Notre Dame scored 35 points in the second half. 

This season would end at 10-3. This big road win was a big boost. 

Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt signals three for the Irish 3-0 record following the 2012 win at No. 10 Michigan State

5. Notre Dame 20, Michigan State 3 

(Sept. 15, 2012) 

Get ready to see more than a couple road games from that magical 2012 season here. 

The Irish went to East Lansing ranked No. 20; the Spartans were No. 10. Notre Dame had lost six straight games to ranked teams and hadn’t beaten a Top 10 team since 2005. 

Both streaks disappeared on a Saturday night in Spartan Stadium as the Irish started 3-0 after opening 0-2 and 1-3 in coach Brian Kelly’s first two seasons. 

Quarterback Everett Golson threw for 178 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score. Defensively, middle linebacker Manti Te’o’s push toward a possible Heisman Trophy commenced with a game-high 12 tackles. 

Afterward, we’d learn that Te’o dedicated this game to his grandmother, who died the previous week, and to his “girlfriend” who had died of leukemia days earlier. 

Notre Dame running back Dexter Williams exits the field at Lane Stadium following a 45-23 win over Virginia Tech in 2018.

4. Notre Dame 45, Virginia Tech 24 

(Oct. 6, 2018) 

Surely No. 6 Notre Dame was headed for a letdown after beating another Top 10 (then No. 7 Stanford) the previous week at home, 38-17. But on a day (night) when three other Top 10 teams lost, the Irish never flinched. 

Notre Dame rolled up 438 yards of total offense and scored 28 points in the second half. That included a momentum-swinging touchdown run from Dexter Williams, who went 97 yards early in the third quarter for the second-longest scoring run in school history. 

Williams finished with 178 yards and three scores. Virginia Tech finished with a lot of yards (441) but managed one second-half score. 

Notre Dame’s Tony Jones Jr. celebrates as his late touchdown seals a victory over USC and undefeated regular season in 2018.

3. Notre Dame 24, USC 17 

(Nov. 24, 2018) 

Only its longtime rival stood between Notre Dame and a perfect regular season, which looked like it might not happen after the Irish tumbled into an early 10-0. It was their largest deficit of the season up to that point.

Maybe all the travel in a year that saw the Irish play in the Chicago area, San Diego and New York over the previous weeks had finally caught up. Notre Dame then outscored USC 24-7 the rest of the way to finish 12-0 and guarantee a spot in the College Football Playoff for the first time in school history. 

Ian Book threw for 352 yards and two touchdowns and Julian Love made a career high 12 tackles for the Irish. 

Notre Dame outgained USC 263-154 in the second half. 

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o ran wild during the memorable victory at Oklahoma in 2012.

2. Notre Dame 30, Oklahoma 13 

(Oct. 27, 2012) 

Te’o and the Irish proved more than ready and worthy for prime-time in Notre Dame’s first visit to Norman, Oklahoma in 46 seasons. Te’o tallied 11 tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and an interception as his Heisman push picked up some serious steam. Te’o and the Irish defense severely sidetracked a Sooner offense that came into the contest averaging 44.7 points. 

Golson  threw for 177 yards including a big-play scoring strike (50 yards) to speedster Chris Brown. 

Notre Dame became the only team in the country to win its fourth game against a Top 25 team and its second on the road against a Top 10 outfit. Possibly going undefeated and playing for a national championship became very real after this one. 

Notre Dame running back Theo Riddick celebrates after Notre Dame beat Southern California in 2012.

1. Notre Dame 22, USC 13 

(Nov. 24, 2012) 

Coming into the season final ranked No. 1 for the first time since 1993, Notre Dame would not pull a repeat of that season when it lost the finale at home to Boston College. 

After opening the year unranked, Notre Dame capped an undefeated regular season thanks to 146 rushing yards from Theo Riddick and five field goals from Kyle Brindza, which tied the school record. A late goal-line stand — when the Irish were faced with first-and-goal from their own 1, cemented this one. 

The lasting impression of a magical night in the Coliseum? Safety Zeke Motta surfing/swimming atop a row of lockers in the Irish dressing room after Kelly asked who wanted to go to South Beach (Miami was site of the national championship game). 

This was pre-College Football Playoff, so a win guaranteed that for the first time since the 1988 season, Notre Dame would play for a national championship. 

Follow South Bend Tribune and NDInsider columnist Tom Noie on Twitter: @tnoieNDI

No. 14 Notre Dame (4-1) vs. Virginia Tech (3-1) 

♦ Kickoff: Saturday at 7:30 p.m. EDT 

Where: Lane Stadium; Blacksburg, Va. 

♦ TV: ACC Network 

Radio: WSBT (AM 960), WNSN-FM (101.5) 

Line: Notre Dame by 1 1/2